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Advice from Dr. Stanwix – Out of Synch

Advice from Dr. Stanwix – Out of Synch
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Dear Dr. Stanwix,

Now that my wife and I are on our own, we don’t share any common interests anymore. We used to enjoy doing many things together when we were first married; however, now it seems that every time we try to do something together we just end up arguing.

Our schedules seemed to naturally align themselves before we had children. Now that we no longer have the responsibilities of raising children we are out of synch.

I realize that things changed when we had children. However, now the children are gone. Things are slowing down at work as we both gear up for retirement. I would like to resume some of the interests we had in common way back when. However, my wife doesn’t seem to want to look back.

I’m not sure if she is simply not interested in spending time with me the way we used to or if she has completely forgotten that we once had a life together before we had children.

Either way, I feel lonely and distant from her. I was looking forward to this part of our lives, the twilight as they call it. Unfortunately, I see more darkness then light.

Is this some sort of phase that we’ll get through? Is there anything waiting for us on the other side of this phase? If not, can you help me to understand my wife better?


Out of Synch

Dear Out of Synch,

Don’t be discouraged. This is simply a phase you are going through in your relationship. You are reaching an age where a deeper understanding of your similarities (and differences) is necessary. There is no reason to feel threatened by it. However, by all means don’t ignore it.

Many times when couples move beyond their child raising years, they fumble for a while before they figure out how to resume the lives they had before bringing children into the world. You haven’t forgotten how things used to be which is truly commendable. Perhaps your wife just needs a little reminding.

When our professional lives and our children begin demanding a lot from us, we develop defense mechanisms to help us cope. With all of the demands and responsibilities pulling us this way and that, we sometimes feel the need to just do things alone. By the time we reach the other end of that long and incredible journey, we still maintain these coping habits. Although there are fewer demands on our time, we continue to selfishly guard our free time as though it were the precious commodity it once was. This may be why your wife isn’t as open to spending time with you.

There is also the possibility that your tastes have changed. As people grow and experience new challenges, their interests can become more divergent. Sometimes we don’t realize our partner has changed with the distractions of our children and professional responsibilities. Now that things are slowing down for you, perhaps you need to get to know one another again.

Sit down together with a nice bottle of wine or whatever makes you more open to one another. Start the conversation with, “Remember when we used to…” to get her to reflect back on how you spent time together when you were younger. A little nostalgia goes along way.

If the past doesn’t work, try the future. Ask your wife if there is anything she hasn’t done that she would like to do. Make a bucket list together of things you would like to do before you’re too old to do them.

By planning some interesting things together you may just rekindle some of your older mutual interests or create new ones that better fit what you understand about one another after so many years of marriage. Sometimes it just takes a little gentle prodding to make your significant other realize your time together is precious.

Best of luck,

Dr. Michael Stanwix

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